The current Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has been known for its “inconclusive elections” across the country. Since he took over from the former INEC boss, Prof Attahiru Jega, there is hardly any election under his watch that has not been declared inconclusive due to one reason or the other.
This unfortunate trend in the electoral process has become a source of concern and frustration to voters, politicians and other stakeholders in view of the time, energy and resources being put into conducting such polls.
Regrettably, this inconclusive election is gradually becoming a norm in our electoral process today. In fact, more worrisome is that the electoral umpire appears helpless in finding lasting solution to this growing trend.
This ugly development has indeed pitched the electorates against INEC for its inability to conduct as well as conclude any election (even re-runs) in the country.
It is a pity that Rivers state has had its fair share from these inconclusive elections. Lo and behold, the electoral umpire has again postponed the rescheduled rerun elections in Rivers state fixed for July 30 over security concern. In a statement signed by its secretary, Mrs. Augusta Ogakwu, INEC maintained that it was ready to conclude the rerun election within the shortest possible time but the enabling environment must be provided by the political actors. The commission cited the recent attack on its office in Khana local government area of the state as a sign of prevailing danger.
Piqued by this development, registered political parties in the state, under the aegis of Rivers State Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, have expressed disappointment over the suspension of the re-run elections in the state.
In a statement, Chairman of IPAC in the state, Mr Felix Obuah said: “It is indeed shocking that the Independent National Electoral Commission could arbitrarily suspend the elections without consulting the concerned political parties and letting us know why the elections should not go on as planned.
“This is suspicious and clearly shows that Nigeria’s democracy is on trial by an electoral body that ought to be an unbiased umpire. There is no gainsaying the fact that the state has been relatively peaceful, with the residents carrying on with their businesses across the state lawfully and without any incidence of skirmishes in any part of the state as erroneously alleged.
“Compared to other states where elections and re-run polls have taken place also conducted by same INEC, Rivers state can safely be described as a haven mainly due to the efforts of the state government in providing logistic support to the security agencies for maintenance of law and order. Security concerns are a national and indeed, universal phenomenon and not peculiar to Rivers state.
“Therefore, to hide under security concerns to postpone elections long prepared for, almost a year now, is to say the least, deceptive.
“We, members of IPAC, Rivers state, hereby, condemn in its entirety the unilateral suspension of the July 30 re-run elections in the state by INEC.
“We also make bold to say that we are very ready and prepared for the elections because we have worked hard to prove to the people that we are capable and remain their best choice to pilot their affairs which are self-evident.
“We, therefore, urge INEC to reverse itself and go ahead to conduct the elections it had so much promised and announced its readiness to do. By postponing the elections, INEC is not doing the state any good because while the rest of the country are fully represented in the National Assembly and have quality legislations to move their respective states forward, Rivers state continues to be stagnated and denied its due representation in all things”.
Following deluges of criticism and condemnation that trail its inconclusive elections in Rivers and other parts of the country, INEC has given reasons why it has continued to conduct inconclusive elections.
Speaking at a dialogue session recently, INEC National Commissioner, Mrs. Amina Zakari insisted that politicians should be blamed for the recurring cases of inconclusive elections in the country. She noted that the concept of inconclusive election is that every polling unit must be accounted for.
According to her, “Too tight and keenly contested”, such that the commission can no longer declare anybody winner when result from even a single polling unit is cancelled.
“It is most regrettable that aside sponsoring violence, ballot snatching, mutilation of election results and other vices, politicians are also trying to take over election in the field”.
Lending a voice on INEC inconclusive poll, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Rotimi Akeredolu, blamed the political class for the inconclusive elections in the country.
Akeredolu, who is an All Progressives Congress aspirant for the Ondo State governorship election, said the political class has put a lot of impediments on the way of the electoral body by its refusal to play by the rules and explained that INEC has always made efforts to ensure the conduct of successful elections, but lamented that it was unfortunate that the political class has frustrated the commission. He, however, said the current INEC Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, must build on the legacy of his predecessor, Prof. Attahiru Jega.
Akeredolu said, “I can assure you of one thing, these inconclusive elections have been worrisome to everybody but the question must be asked, who is to blame?
“I think the blame is for all of us and I want to believe that mainly, the blame is for politicians because when INEC makes some efforts to put in place all their preparations towards elections, politicians will go ahead and put impediments on INEC’s path, it is an unfortunate development”.
Come to think of it, why is inconclusive election not so pronounced during Prof Attahiru Jega’s tenure? Why now under a new INEC boss? Can INEC be completely absolved from this ugly trend? Is there no way this can be nipped in the bud just as we have in other developing democracies?
It is pertinent to state that INEC cannot be completely absolved from this growing trend of inconclusive election in our electoral process. We have seen many instances where electoral materials arrive polling units very late. Such shoddy preparations by the electoral umpire often give room for rigging.
Again, some corrupt and unscrupolous INEC officials are willing tools in the hands of desperate politicians, who use them to compromise the electoral process. Such bad eggs after their pockets should be fished out and shown the way out.
Moreover, the police and other security operatives should brace up to the challenges that come with conducting elections, especially in violence prone areas. For instance, the killings, abductions and other criminal activities that characterised our poll should be curtailed drastically if the police are proactive enough.
Nevertheless, the political elite and their teeming supporters should learn to play politics with moderation; they should be reminded that they stand to benefit nothing from violence.
The current INEC has not really convinced Nigerians that it truly has what it takes to conduct credible polls. Hiding under security concerns to continue to postpone election is certainly not acceptable. Nigerians and indeed the international community are now watching to see how it goes about the conduct of the Edo and Ondo gubernatorial elections before the 2019 general elections.
If elections could be conducted successfully in the North-East in 2015, then the Mahmood Yakubu led- commission should begin to sit up. Therefore, the electoral umpire must first convince all the stakeholders in the electoral process that it is indeed ready to conduct free and credible poll before it can be taken seriously.

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